ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The Story of Your Life EP
Is Toronto singer-songwriter Matthew Barber the next Sam Roberts? The folks
at Warner sure hope so — like Universal’s strategy with Mr. Roberts,
the first major-label release by Barber is a six-song EP that hopes to set
the Can-rock world on fire before the proper full-length record expected in
Although The Story of Your Life EP certainly has songs that can match the
quality of Roberts’ first couple of singles, it’s difficult to
say whether the typical bearded, Labatt Blue-guzzling Canadian will latch onto
Barber’s tunes, which, at times, lean more towards a Brit-pop approach
similar to Hawskley Workman’s latest output. The closest Barber comes
to Roberts is on the rollicking blues-rocker “Sentimental Acumen,” which
might even be closer to the ’80s rock anthems of Bruce Springsteen with
its jumpy piano-backed riffs.
Elsewhere, Barber’s versatile voice ranges from acidic on the whiskey-washed,
reggae-soul of “Tilt-A-Whirl,” to playfully loose on the catchy
theatrical romper “We’re Gonna Play,” on which he quirkily
yearns, “I want you for my breakfast/And I want you for my lunch/And
when I sleep in on the weekend, I want you for my brunch.” He even fits
in a gorgeously bright country number as the title track, to feature his aptitude
for smooth, Blue Rodeo-esque harmonizing.
After spending a year as Canadian indie’s It boy, Barber’s solid
work on the EP indicates the story’s just beginning.
Throw Down the Reigns
Vancouver’s Panurge is a much needed breath of fresh air.
If you’re looking for an album to listen to on a warm spring
day, Throw Down the Reins will satisfy. Panurge offer a mix of
music both upbeat and laid-back. The band adopts the indie aesthetic,
yet adds a dose of originality by blending other sounds.
The first track, “Sweet Fanny Annie,” is the epitome
of a head-bopper with harps in the background. But then there are
tracks like “Faux Pal” and “No Thank You” that
are about a minute long and are segue into the next song.
“Thirty Silver” is the last track on the album and
is about as “mainstream” as it gets, which is even
a stretch. Reminiscent of Beck’s experimentation, Panurge
successfully creates a sound that not only puts life back into
the indie genre but also create a genre all its own. It’s
hard to pinpoint the category this might fall into, but you’ll
love the eclecticism.
The Indigo Girls
All That We Let In
With a political agenda evident in their harmonies and unbelievable
vocal lines, it’s clear The Indigo Girls are still practicing
their feminist activism on their ninth album, All That We Let In.
The Girls’ Georgia roots are apparent in their beautiful
melodies, vocal blends and poetic insight in songs like “Something
Real.” On the track “Cordova,” they remember
Native American campaigners and relay environmental issues.
Together for 19 years, this acoustic duo shows they can still
surprise listeners with songs like Amy Ray’s mellow “Heartache
for Everyone” and Emily Saliers’ sugar-coated “Fill
It Up Again.” With a combination of folk, rock and alternative,
the Indigo Girls are a strong presence in their genre.
Three Gut Records
Al Okada’s latest project with vocalist Tamara Williamson
takes some getting used to.
Following the first track — which makes for an enticing
introduction — some of the shorter cuts resonate like the
garbled background noise of a movie soundtrack. Dead Stars takes
listeners on a serene space odyssey before arriving at the title
track, a 23 minute trip-hop epic; the final track boasts multiple
gunshots fired in rapid sequence while children play.
The harmonious mood is offset by the sadistic sounds, as listeners
are sling-shot back into reality at the end of the disc.
If Mircrobunny sparks your interest, check out their London release
show at Call the Office on Friday, Mar. 26.